Green energy will pay to conserve heritage

The hydro power turbine installed on the river at the National Trust's Hafod y Llan farm in Snowdonia
The hydro power turbine installed on the river at the National Trust's Hafod y Llan farm in Snowdonia
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GREEN power will be sold back to the grid to fund conservation work by the National Trust after the charity switched on its first large-scale renewable energy scheme.

A hydropower turbine has been installed on a river at the charity’s Hafod y Llyn farm, on the side of Snowdon.

A new trading company has been set up by the Trust to sell electricity from renewables projects, with the money raised going into conservation work such as repairing footpaths and managing important habitat.

Electricity from the scheme will be sold via the grid to the National Trust’s energy partner Good Energy.

The turbine is expected to generate 1,900 megawatt hours per year, more electricity than is needed to light up all of the Trust’s properties in Wales or enough to power around 445 homes.

Hafod y Llyn farm was bought for the nation after a campaign spearheaded by Sir Anthony Hopkins in 1998. The Trust said the hydro-scheme ensured a sustainable future for the property.

Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director at the National Trust, said: “We’re lucky to be blessed with an abundance of natural resources that we look after for the benefit of the nation.

“Now with this new trading company we can harness some of the power generated by nature to help fund our conservation work.

“However, the real prize is that we are helping to protect special places forever by creating sustainable energy solutions that work in complete harmony with our natural and historic heritage.”

The National Trust already has more than 250 small and medium-scale renewable energy schemes across England and Wales, including biomass boilers for heating castles and solar panels on stately homes.

A plan was launched last year with Good Energy to provide clean energy to 43 historic properties.

The Trust hopes that installing appropriately-sited renewables and energy conservation measures will help it cut energy use by a fifth, halve fossil fuel use and generate half its energy from renewables by 2020, as well as save £4m a year in energy costs.

In Yorkshire, smaller scale schemes are powering National Trust attractions.

At Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags, near Hebdon Bridge, a hydro scheme harnesses water power from the river, and photovoltaic cells on the roof harness natural light.

And a ground source heat pump has been installed Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, like gas and oil.

Sarah Pemberton, National Trust regional spokeswoman, said: “In Yorkshire we seek to find alternative solutions to energy use whenever possible. Whilst we’re not in a position to adopt a scheme like Hafod y Llan in Wales, we have undertaken a number of smaller scale renewable energy schemes.

“Most recently at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, we have installed a ground source heat pump to extract heat from the ground to partly heat the visitor centre. This means it is no longer dependant on gas or oil for heating and hot water, in turn helping to support our ambition to greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel use.”

“At Gibson Mill in West Yorkshire, this is seen to great effect as the building is entirely reliant on sustainable energy. With no mains connection, save a telephone line it is the National Trust’s flagship sustainable building.”